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WBEZ Brings Graduation to Life for Class of 2020

By Kevin Beerman / June 11, 2020

While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended life for everyone, the class of 2020 is feeling the pressure of cancellation more acutely than most. In-person commencement exercises aren’t happening this year, meaning graduates won’t take the ceremonial walk across the stage.

But this week, WBEZ is bringing a different party to life.

“The onset of the coronavirus pandemic was sudden and significant to people of all ages. And now, protesters across the country are demanding changes in American policing,” said Kate Grossman, senior education editor of WBEZ.  “Against this backdrop, students across the Chicago area are still marking important milestones this month. Through a series of WBEZ features and activities for graduates, their families, and our community at large, we hope to provide a bright spot amid a time of public health concerns and, now, protests by shining a light on the Class of 2020 and the future they have ahead of them.” 

#ChiGradWeek, which is playing out all week, is a special commemoration broadcast by WBEZ and available on It includes five elements to honor 2020 graduates. Here’s what they’ve put together:

On Sunday, June 14, will livestream the city of Chicago’s virtual high school graduation ceremony from 1 to 2 p.m. It will be emceed by Chicago Hamilton star Miguel Cervantes. Oprah Winfrey will deliver the commencement speech, The Voice’s Katie Kadan will sing the national anthem, and students will perform throughout. Portions of the ceremony will also air on 91.5 FM.

#ChiGradWeek is for students graduating across the Chicago area—including from 8th grade, high school, college or any post-secondary institution. For WBEZ, opening up the festivities to everybody is an essential way for the community to set these students up for success during a tumultuous time.